Zhukova scores for Dermot Weld in New York

Mare takes Man o’War stakes under John Velazquez on familiar soft ground

Zhukova posted a notable victory for Dermot Weld in New York. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Zhukova posted a notable victory for Dermot Weld in New York. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Zhukova provided pioneering trainer Dermot Weld with another notable victory overseas when justifying favouritism in the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park.

Rain left conditions on the soft side, in which the mare found herself well at home, and her task was made easier as three local runners were taken out on account of the ground.

That meant she had just four to beat and after tracking the front-running Charming Kitten, who had two runs for Weld in Ireland last season, she burst clear to beat Taghleeb by six lengths under John Velazquez.

“We’re absolutely over the moon with that,” Weld’s son and assistant Mark told www.bloodhorse.com.

“It was a major target over the last few weeks. The rain came, which was a huge help. Johnny was very complimentary about her. He said she could have a future here. She’ll come home now but the (Breeders’ Cup) Filly & Mare Turf would be a definite possibility to finish off the year.

“She’s a true European Grade One mare. We’ve known she’s a good mare for a little while. You don’t beat the Breeders’ Cup winner Found very easily, and she beat her pretty handily (in the 2016 Alleged Stakes). She’s a homebred; we’ve had her since she was a foal bred by my grandmother. This is huge for us today. We have a lot to look forward to.”

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